Collins Hill’s Ryan Millhof
It came down to 30 seconds.
Collins Hill standout Ryan Millhof, after a one-point escape in overtime, held a slim 2-1 lead over California wrestler Isaiah Locsin in the senior finals of the National High School Coaches Association National Championships. With 30 seconds on the clock and Locsin down for a restart, Millhof’s mission was clear — hang on.
If he kept Locsin from an escape, Millhof had his goal of four straight national titles at the prestigious high school meet, which draws the top wrestlers from 48 states.
“I just knew I was 30 seconds from making history,” Millhof said.
The Oklahoma signee did just that with his 2-1 overtime victory last weekend in Virginia Beach, making him just the fourth wrestler in the tournament’s history and first in nearly a decade to win four straight NHSCA national championships. He swept his earlier matches 9-0, 4-0, 17-1, 9-0 and 3-0 before the thrilling championship match.
“It was an awesome experience, an awesome feeling, to accomplish a feat that not many people get to do,” Millhof said. “I’m very blessed to have done it.”
Millhof headlined an incredible NHSCA meet for Gwinnett County, which also got three national champions and six All-Americans from Archer’s loaded program.
The Tigers, who swept Georgia’s duals and traditional state championships last season, got repeat championships from twins Daniel and Thomas Bullard in the sophomore division and a title from Quinn Miller in the freshman division. Teammates Chris Diaz (second in the 126-pound sophomore division), Jacob Lill (third in the 220 sophomore division) and M.J. Couzan (fourth in the 285 senior division) also earned All-American status. Diaz nearly claimed a championship himself, falling 3-2 in overtime to New Jersey’s Kris Lindemann.
Miller dominated in the 195-pound freshman bracket, defeating Pennsylvania’s Cole Nye 10-2 in the finals. Thomas Bullard defeated Abner Romero Jr. of California 8-2 in the finals and his brother Daniel topped Colorado’s Deyaun Trueblood 7-6 in the championship match.
All of the All-Americans except for Couzan will return to Archer’s high school team for the 2014-15 season.
“I am very excited about how our kids did at Nationals, to have six All-Americans on one high school team is amazing,” Archer head coach Tom Beuglas said. “When you are competing against the best kids in the country, the matches are so close, you never know how the results are going to come out. The Bullard twins repeated as national champions. Chris Diaz was third last year, so his second-place finish was an improvement. I was not surprised with Quinn Miller winning, he is a beast, and probably the best overall freshman in the country, regardless of weight class.
“I am very happy for Jacob Lill, he placed higher at Nationals than he did at state, that is awesome. M.J. Couzan finishes his career proving he is among the best in the country before he moves on to play college football. Not bad for a kid who started wrestling in ninth grade.”
Buford wrestler Rudy Guillen gave Gwinnett another All-American with his fifth-place finish in the 145-pound junior division.
Apalachee’s Matthew Moore also was a national champion in the 220-pound senior division.
The Gwinnett wrestlers played big parts in Georgia’s impressive meet, which should bring more attention and scholarship opportunities for wrestlers from this state. In the team standings, Georgia was third in the senior division, eighth in the junior division, fifth in the sophomore division and seventh in the freshman division.
“Gwinnett and the state of Georgia had an awesome showing,” Millhof said. “Georgia’s definitely a name on the rise and a state on the rise in wrestling and Gwinnett did better than ever before.”